Tory MP Penny Mordaunt appears to U-turn on trans rights and women’s rights… again

Penny Mordaunt

Tory MP Penny Mordaunt has said she sees “no incompatibility” with protecting both trans rights and women’s rights – appearing to U-turn on comments she made when she ran for Conservative Party leader.

In a new interview, the leader of the House of Commons claimed she is “here for all of my constituents” and said her job as a politician is to “bring people together”. 

“I see no incompatibility with being kind and understanding, and protecting the ability for trans people to go around and live their lives, with protecting my rights as a woman to privacy and dignity,” she told Nick Robinson on BBC podcast Political Thinking.

Her comments come after both prime minister Rishi Sunak and home secretary Suella Braverman have used attacks on the trans community and banal rhetoric about penises for political leverage, with deputy chairman Lee Anderson evening claiming that the Tories would fight the next election on “a mix of culture wars and trans debate”.

“The world is a dangerous and an uncertain place, and we’ve got enough things to worry about than starting spats on Twitter … and culture wars,” Mordaunt added. 

When Robinson claimed her position that “trans women are women, and trans men are men” had previously caused Mordaunt political problems, she explained that “people’s rights in law” was a separate issue to biology.

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“We’re talking about people’s rights in law, not biology. That’s the difference, and I’ve been very clear on that.”

Mordaunt added that her views on the trans community “have always been very clear” and “were very clear throughout the whole leadership contest”. 

Penny Mordaunt leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street
Penny Mordaunt leaves Number 10 Downing Street. (Getty Images)

Despite her claim that her support for the trans community was “clear”, the MP has previously flip-flopped on the issue of LGBTQ+ rights. 

During her time as equalities minister, Mordaunt was seen as a rare ally to the LGBTQ+ community among the Conservatives, marching in Pride parades and vowing to end conversion therapy.

In 2020, she explained that seeing the prejudice her gay twin brother James faced when he came out in the 1980s inspired her to become an ally.

“I see a direct parallel between what he went through and what the trans community are going through today, which is why I think it is really important that we show our support at every opportunity,” she said at the time.

Her support for LGBTQ+ rights came into question during the 2022 Conservative leadership race, however, facing criticism due to a Twitter thread in which she said biology was “overwhelmingly important”.

“I am biologically a woman. If I have a hysterectomy or mastectomy, I am still a woman. And I am legally a woman,” she wrote.

“Some people born male and who have been through the gender recognition process are also legally female. That DOES NOT mean they are biological women, like me.”

In the lengthy Twitter thread, she spoke about her opposition to so-called “trans orthodoxy”, claiming she supports a “science-based” approach to the question of trans women’s inclusion in sports and would not “undermine” women’s rights.

She added in a later interview that she had “never supported self-ID” for trans people. 

Due to the Twitter thread, Mordaunt was accused of ‘throwing trans people under the bus’ in order to go further during the leadership race, before pulling out in October 2022, leaving Rishi Sunak to take the job of unelected prime minister.

Penny Mordaunt added during the Political Thinking show that she and her twin brother James had previously had “different views” when it came to politics, but insisted things were “not awkward” between them. 

James has previously criticised members of the Conservative Party for being “complicit” in anti-LGBTQ+ hatred, adding that the party was “pushing LGBTQ+ rights backwards at an alarming rate”. 

“If you are a member of the Conservative Party, a Conservative MP, part of this homophobic, transphobic government, you are complicit,” he said on Twitter. 

Mordaunt explained on the show that “people have different views. members of my family have different views. And that’s democracy”.

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